Warren Spalding is sent to live with his grandmother after his father dies in an accident and his mother returns to college. There he discovers his grandfather's invention, an Instant Commuter. Accidentally, the boy is transported back in time to the slopes of Mt. St. Helens just minutes before its eruption in 1980. His new friend Betsy follows him in an effort to save him and both experience the whirlwind of ash that makes it difficult to breathe as well as move, the sharp earthquakes, and the frightening lightning. The fact that the two friends are working on a school report about the mountain allows the author to bring in other facts about volcanoes. Some readers will find this approach too didactic. There's no character development; Warren and Betsy are wooden figures as are the other people they briefly encounter in the present world and in the past. However, students interested in volcanoes may be drawn to the detailed descriptions of what it would have been like to be in the midst of this eruption.
Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Mt. St. Alban, Washington,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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